Steve Hanson

Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and runs the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. In his spare time he makes beer and wine, and has a life-long interest in music of all types. Part of his role there is to develop this web site, and to run the hosting portion of the business.

My particular skills include web developing and hosting, music (particularly 60-70's popular music and opera -- that is eclectic enough). I am also a beer, wine, cider, and mead maker.  I am on the board at Menomonie Market Food Co-op and have a strong interest in politics, local government, and local foods. Additionally, I am currently on the Steering Committee of the Citizen Action Organizing Co-op of Western Wisconsin, and am the Vice President of the Dunn County Wisconsin Farmers Union chapter.  I run a political blog at Uppity Wisconsin.

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Yesterday, August 18

  • 11:05am

    Public education has been a cornerstone of American life since the formation of the first schools in the early 1600s. Since that time, the mechanisms through which schools are funded have become considerably more complex. In Wisconsin, a desire for quality education and the costs of making such an investment has led to a funding system that can vary significantly by where a school is located.

    In Wisconsin's contemporary policy environment, school revenue is directly linked to two primary sources — state funding and property taxes. State funds are largely based on school district enrollment, while property taxes go directly to local districts. Because enrollment is declining more dramatically in rural districts, this funding structure puts a higher burden of support on residents of those areas and places their schools at risk of underfunding.

    Rurality of a school district

    Determining exactly which school districts are rural and which are not can be challenging because rurality is a multidimensional concept that is defined by economic activity, population density, commuting patterns, distances to cities, access to services and other demographic measures.

    A classification system developed by the National Center of Educational Statistics assigns school districts to four categories based on the population of the area and their distance from an urbanized area. Rural districts are defined as being at least 5 miles...

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  • 10:49am

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  • 10:48am


    Throughout grade school and high school, I was fortunate to participate in quality music programs. Our high school had a top Illinois state jazz band; I also participated in symphonic band, which gave me a greater appreciation for classical music. It wasn’t enough to just read music. You would need to sight read, meaning you are given a difficult composition to play cold, without any prior practice. Sight reading would quickly reveal how fine-tuned playing “chops” really were. In college I continued in a jazz band and also took a music theory class. The experience gave me the ability to visualize music (If you play by ear only, you will never have that same depth of understanding music construct.)

    Both jazz and classical art forms require not only music literacy, but for the musician to be at the top of their game in technical proficiency, tonal quality and creativity in the case of the jazz idiom. Jazz masters like John Coltrane would practice six to nine hours a day, often cutting his practice only because his inner lower lip would be bleeding from the friction caused by his mouth piece against his gums and teeth. His ability to compose and create new styles and directions for jazz was legendary. With few exceptions such as Wes Montgomery or Chet Baker, if you couldn’t read music, you couldn’t play jazz. In the case of classical music, if you can’t read music you can’t play in an orchestra or symphonic band. Over the last 20 years, musical foundations like reading and composing music are disappearing with the percentage of people that can read music notation proficiently down to 11 percent, according to some surveys.

    canyoureadmusic

    Two primary sources for learning to read music are school programs and at home piano lessons. Public school music programs have been in decline since the 1980's, often with school administrations blaming budget cuts or needing to spend money on competing extracurricular programs. Prior to the 1980’s, it was common for homes to have a piano with children taking piano lessons. Even home architecture incorporated what was referred to as a “piano window” in the living room which was positioned above an upright piano to help illuminate the music. Stores dedicated to selling pianos are dwindling across the country as fewer people take up the instrument. In 1909, piano sales were at their peak when more than 364,500 were sold, but sales have plunged to between 30,000 and 40,000 annually in the US. Demand for youth sports competes with music studies, but also...

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